North Carolina Massage Therapy Schools & Licensure

North Carolina is by far one of the most beautiful and attractive places in the world to work as a massage therapist.  There are boundless mountains, including the Blue Ridge Parkway, as well as the crystal blue, warm and relaxing beaches.

Thousands of people come to visit North Carolina year-round, as it is a historic landmark with cultural and historical sites for people to visit.  Aside from being an attractive tourist location, there are over ten million people that reside in North Carolina alone, making it a very desirable and opportunistic place to settle, work and succeed as a massage therapist.

To become a massage therapist in the state of North Carolina, you will be required to attend a school, take the required examinations and apply to operate as a small business owner.  Serving the people of North Carolina, as well as the visitors to this region, is an exciting a vibrant choice to make.

To help you make your decision, this article will go into full detail as to what the requirements are for you to work here effectively and properly.  Continue reading to find out more.

Scroll straight to the bottom to see a list of the top massage therapy schools in North Carolina.

Brief Summary of the Main Highlights

Every therapist in the state of North Carolina must be fully licensed to operate and work as a massage therapist.  As stated by the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy, “anyone who falls under the scope of practice definition in the Massage and Bodywork Therapy Practice Act will be required to apply for a license.”

Legally, if you are engaging in any activity related to soft tissues in the human body for therapeutic, educational or relaxation purposes, then North Carolina requires a license prior to working or pursuing this type of career.

However, there is an exception to this rule; practitioners of certain energy-based and movement repatterning techniques whose work meets specific criteria for exemption may be without a license.

Additionally, North Carolina has an education standard that is comparable and highly regarded to as that of other states.  But, the guidelines and rules are much stricter here, particularly when it comes to which school you may attend.

Like other states, any fees that you pay to North Carolina are non-refundable, so it is very important that you send in a completed application with the appropriate information and documents attached.

Schooling Details and Requirements (Credit Hours)

To be considered for a massage therapy license in the state of North Carolina, you must first complete and submit all required documents to the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy as well as attend a NC Board Approved school.

In North Carolina, accreditation is a voluntary process where Board Approval is required. Not all schools choose to become accredited and funded for Financial Aid purposes. One of the perceived advantages of this ‘optionality‘ is that some schools decide to choose their massage students wisely instead of being forced to take anyone who is qualified for financial aid under Title IV funding.

Their contact information has been provided to you below:

The North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy

Wells Fargo Building

150 Fayetteville Street, Suite 1900

Raleigh, NC 27601

Phone: 919-546-0050

Fax: 919-833-1059


Aside from submitting an application, you must also complete the required amount of credit hours towards your education in massage therapy.  North Carolina requires that you successfully complete a course of study in the field of massage and bodywork therapy consisting of a minimum of 500 in-class hours.

These hours must be supervised by an instructor at a Board-approved school, or an exempted North Carolina Community College program, as approved by the Board.  You must meet one of the three following requirements as set by the Board:

  • Graduate from a Board-approved school (a list has been provided for you below), or an exempted North Carolina College program.  After you have graduated, your school of choice must send to the Board an official sealed transcript and a verification of the official curriculum form;
  • Graduate from an out-of-state school that has not been approved by the North Carolina Board of Massage and Bodywork Therapy.  If this is the case, then you must submit the following documents for consideration to the Board:
    • A photocopy of the school’s current license to operate
    • A copy of the most recent school catalog
    • A copy of the program curriculum
    • An official sealed transcript sent to the Board
    • A verification of official curriculum form
    • Or, if you have graduated from a school that is no longer in operation, then you must complete an Affidavit of Professional Training, which attests to your course of study and date of graduation.  If this is the case, then you will need to submit any school documents you may have at the time with the Affidavit of Professional Training Form.  The Board will then review your affidavit and approve it at their discretion.

 Licensure Qualifying Programs

Community Colleges that are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or massage or bodywork programs offered by a college or university that are accredited by any accrediting agency recognized by the DOE and is licensed by the North Carolina Community College System of the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, are exempt from approval by the Board.

The Board has only approved nineteen massage therapy schools for the period of July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014.  They are the following:

  • American & European Massage Clinic, Inc. in Raleigh
  • Medical Arts School in Raleigh
  • Asheville School of Massage and Yoga in Asheville
  • Miller-Motte Technical College in Cary
  • Body Therapy Institute in Siler City
  • Miller-Motte Technical College in Fayetteville
  • College of Wilmington in Wilmington
  • Miller-Motte Technical College in Greenville
  • Center for Massage & Natural Health in Asheville
  • Miller-Motte Technical College in Wilmington
  • The Healing Arts and Massage School in Raleigh
  • Mount Eagle Institute in Winston Salem
  • Kneaded Energy School of Massage in Greensboro
  • North Carolina Massage School in Cornelius
  • Living Arts Institute in Winston Salem
  • North Carolina School of Advanced Bodywork in Fairview
  • Southeastern Institute in Charlotte
  • Maiden School of Bodywork Therapy in Maiden
  • Therapeutic Massage Training Institute in Charlotte

Licensing/Certification Requirements

As mentioned above, all therapists in the state of North Carolina must be licensed per the Massage and Bodywork Therapy Practice Act.

After completing your required schooling, you must then request from the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy, an application packet that they will send to your mailing address.

Once you have received that package, you will be required to enclose and meet the following for a completed application process:

  • Meet the requirements for licensure
  • Complete the Application Form and submit it with all the required documentation
  • Enclose one original passport size phot0 of yourself
  • Enclose the $150 Licensure Fee; this may be in the form of a certified check or a money order
  • Enclose the $40 SBI Criminal History Report fee
  • Include your fingerprint card
  • Sign and date the consent form
  • Other documents that may be required or requested by the Board

To request the License Application Packet, you must download the “Application Request Form” from the Document Center on the Board’s website.

Once the form is completed, mail it to the Board with a $20 application fee.  This fee must either be a money order or a cashier’s check; other forms of payment will not be accepted.

Once the Application Request Form and $20 has been received, the Board will then mail you the application packet to fill out.  Along with the packet, you will find the required forms as well as an instructional handbook to review.

Key Agencies / Boards involved and their contact information

The North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy is the primary organization that oversees and regulates the massage therapy industry in this particular state.  Within the Board, the Board’s License Standard’s Committee is responsible for approving license applications.

Here is the website address with the following contact information:  phone: 919-546-0050, fax: 919-833-1059 and email:  The Board is an excellent place to learn more about what is required of you to operate as a massage therapist in the state of North Carolina, feel free to contact them at any time with any questions or concerns you may have.

Requirements to Start a Massage Business or School in North Carolina (Massage Establishment License)

To open a Board-approved school, you must download a New School Application Request Form.  Otherwise, all licensed and practicing massage therapists must represent themselves to the public through advertising or business with first name or nickname and last name of record, followed by the letters LMBT and license number or, on a separate line, the words Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapist followed by the license number.

If you are working in a business with an assumed name, you must register all assumed names with the Register of Deeds in the county where your business is located and mail a copy of the assumed name certificate to the Board.

All advertisements for businesses using an assumed name must still list license numbers and professional designation for all licensees working in the establishment.  Alternatively, if you choose to advertise your business, you are at liberty to use the following words: Services provided by North Carolina Licensed Massage and Bodywork Therapists.

You may only promote services you are qualified to perform and must be able to provide documentation of professional training for any specialty or service you offer.

Massage License Renewal Process

Once you are licensed, you will find that there will come a time where you will need to renew.  The renewal process may be completed online at the North Carolina Board of Massage & Bodywork Therapy website.

You can follow the link here. To complete the online renewal you will need your license number, the last four digits of your social security number or your previous renewal password, a list of the 24 hours of approved continuing education (because you will have to list them) and a MasterCard, Visa or debit card for the $100 renewal fee.

You must also answer declaration questions about your moral character and an affirmation that you have read the Act governing your profession and rules of conduct, a copy of which you can find on the Board’s website, at this address.

Massage License Reciprocity

If you have graduated from an out-of-state school then you must provide proof of passing one of the following exams:

  • The Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination (MBLEx)
  • The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork (NCETMB)
  • The National Certification Examination for Therapeutic Massage (NCETM)
  • NESL options for the NCETMB and NCETM or The Asian Bodywork Therapy Examination (ABTE) offered by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture & Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)

Additionally, if you are from out-of-state may apply for Licensure by Endorsement, which takes 3 to 6 months and are explained in detail on the website under subheading License by Endorsement.

Or, if you graduated from an out-of-state school, you may submit a photocopy of the school’s license to operate, the school catalog, the program curriculum, an official sealed transcript sent directly to the Board and a verification of official curriculum form.

Note: Specific personnel information, office addresses, fees, payments etc. may change over time. Although we do our best to keep this site up to date, please ensure you contact the state board to obtain the most recent information at the time of your application.   

Here is a list of the top massage therapy schools near you. We have an arrangement with all of them that allow you to request information for FREE. Please do so and take that first step toward a better future.

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Centura College, with campus locations in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida, is dedicated to helping students gain the skills and attitudes necessary to succeed. Drawing from over 30 years of career school experience.


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Find out how to teach massage in North Carolina here.

Neal Lyons is a founding member and volunteer contributor at the MTSI Institute, an information based portal dedicated to guiding and assisting aspiring massage therapists establish a successful career in massage. Neal is a published author and has collaborated on several mobile applications that serve the massage profession. You can view his published work on Amazon, iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony and Kobo. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and on Google+

11 comments on “North Carolina Massage Therapy Schools & Licensure
  1. Elton Ray Locklear says:

    I want to really be a masseuse but have no funds for school… I have been to college for advertising and am currently supporting my family alone… any Ideas?

  2. d myers says:

    i have questions. is there a school in n.c. that has accreditation’s. so the credits can be carried to another school in the region or nation? are there any schools that offer grants or non loan/free scholarships. if not never mind. because having been unemployed for years. i have no money to use and can’t risk an education loan to ruin my finances further. because if this is the states doing. it’s a disservice to helping it’s citizens to better the state. this to help people to create a small businesses. i’m going to say, no school in n.c offers job placement. being that’s a requirement of schools who are accredited.

  3. Rachelle Elam says:

    I am currently enrolled in the US Career Institute for massage therapy.. will NC recognize these credentials once I graduate?

  4. Fedora says:

    I’m a registered massage therapist in Canada, I’m planning to move to North Carolina. Does this mean I have to start over with schooling and the licensing exam? Or just the licensing exam?

  5. Kayla Deaton says:

    The college i attend has 2 different certificate programs in maasage therapy (including just the massage certification and a practitioner certificate) they also have the associates program in massage therapy. Im struggling to understand if i can just take the certificate programs and be allowed to work directly in the field before completely graduatung first.

    • Neal Lyons says:

      we will have to review the course curriculum – from the sounds of it yes. a degree is not necessary to practice massage. you need to be certified/licensed depends on your State’s requirements. what does your counselor say when you ask that question?

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